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I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bush followers outraged over the political use of homosexuality and sex -- seriously

(Updated below - Update II - Update III)

Scads of right-wing bloggers are scandalized and outraged today because it has been reported that GOP social conservative Senator Larry Craig routinely engages in anonymous sex with men. Why, they are just furious that anyone would introduce issues of someone's private sexual affairs into the public arena, and particularly can't believe that someone would try to use a person's homosexuality as a political weapon. Most movingly, they lament that exploiting private sexual behavior this way will drive good people out of political life.

I really hadn't intended to write about this Larry Craig story when I read about it this morning (I was and am working on a post on the President's very inspiring signing ceremony yesterday), but then I became exposed to this disgustingly pious concern being paraded about by all sorts of right-wing pundits over dragging sexual innuendo into the public arena and subjecting political officials to unpleasant personal attacks that would drive good people from office, and how can anyone let that raging, violent hypocrisy just go uncommented upon? Their entire political movement over the last 20 years has been fueled by sleazy sexual innuendo; dragging private sexual behavior into the public arena for fun, profit and political gain; and exploiting the gay issue to drive people to vote for them.

Are they aware of the history and behavior of their political movement when they deliver these sermons or, like the chaos and civil war they brought to Iraq, do they block those facts out and create a different reality for themselves? Are they cognizant of any of this:

From Joe Conason's definitive account in Salon of how the odd "distinguishing spots" on Bill Clinton's penis became a major news story in our country:

On October 8, 1997, [lawyer, GOP activist and current NRO contributor George] Conway sent a long E-mail message via America Online to Matt Drudge. "Subject: Your Next Exclusive" is the caption on that message. "Remember me?" it begins. "I'm Laura [Ingraham]'s friend. We talked once about Kathleen Willey ... This is being given to you, of course, subject to your not disclosing the source." (Conway forwarded the same message to Ingraham the following day.)

The main topic of the October 8 message was not Willey but the "distinguishing characteristic," a matter nearly as sensitive as the Willey allegations. Like Coulter, Conway must have realized that with the leak of its details to Drudge, any further settlement negotiations could again be disrupted.

From page 182 of David Brock’s book Blinded by the Right:

For the next few years, Conway ... spoke to me about little else but Clinton’s rumored sexual habits, and the supposed size and shape of his genitalia.

Mark Styen, January 13, 2001, An A to Z of the Clinton Presidency

D IS FOR DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS: His was the first First Penis to have an official statement issued on its behalf, following its formal examination by Captain Kevin O'Connell of the National Naval Medical Center as Exhibit A in Paula Jones's sexual harassment suit. 'In terms of size, shape, direction, ' announced his lawyer Bob Bennett, 'the President is a normal man.'

P IS FOR PUSSY: Some years back, asked what he and the President talked about during their frequent afternoons on the golf course, Clinton confidant Vernon Jordan replied succinctly, 'Pussy.' Presumably this is a reference to Kathleen Willey's late cat, who mysteriously disappeared after she went public with her accusations against the President.

Q IS FOR QUEEN, BEAUTY: Mr Clinton has had relationships with at least three winners of the Miss Arkansas competition: Sally Perdue, Miss Arkansas 1958; Lencola Sullivan, Miss Arkansas 1980; Elizabeth Ward Gracen, Miss Arkansas 1982.

S IS FOR THE SMALL-BREAST DEFENCE: When Kathleen Willey accused the President of assault, Monica was indignant: how could the President be unfaithful to her? Fortunately, Mr Clinton was able to reassure her that Mrs Willey's story was completely unbelievable because he'd never grope a woman with such small breasts. If you study the women who disrobed for Playboy and Penthouse, this appears to be one of the less risible Clinton defence arguments.

Matt Drudge, the right-wing Walter Cronkite, "exposing" John Kerry's secret affair with an intern during the 2004 campaign:

XXXXX DRUDGE REPORT XXXXX

THU FEB 12, 2004 11:45:28 ET XXXXX

CAMPAIGN DRAMA ROCKS DEMOCRATS:

KERRY FIGHTS OFF MEDIA PROBE OF RECENT ALLEGED INFIDELITY, RIVALS PREDICT RUIN

**World Exclusive** **Must Credit the DRUDGE REPORT**

A frantic behind-the-scenes drama is unfolding around Sen. John Kerry and his quest to lockup the Democratic nomination for president, the DRUDGE REPORT can reveal.

Intrigue surrounds a woman who recently fled the country, reportedly at the prodding of Kerry, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned. . . .

Democratic presidential frontrunner John Kerry is planning a response to a DRUDGE REPORT exclusive which first revealed the frantic behind-the-scenes drama surrounding a woman who recently fled the country, reportedly at the prodding of Kerry! . . . .

The nature and details of a claimed two-year relationship, beginning in the Spring of 2001, between a young woman and Kerry is at the center of serious investigations at several media outlets.

Rush Limbaugh on Hillary Clinton's lesbianism

I've got some interesting, juicy details on this book on Hillary by Ed Klein, but I'm not going to be the first to mention them. I'm not going there. It will come out eventually. It has to do with sexual orientation, and I'm not going to be the one. That's the book that everybody says is going to be presenting a firestorm. . . .

"I mean, where are the real men in the Democratic Party? Where are the real men? Hillary Clinton's one of them, but where are the others?"

Rush Limbaugh, on Hillary Clinton's role in Vince Foster's murder

OK, folks, I think I got enough information here to tell you about the contents of this fax that I got. Brace yourselves. This fax contains information that I have just been told will appear in a newsletter to Morgan Stanley sales personnel this afternoon. ... What it is is a bit of news which says ... there's a Washington consulting firm that has scheduled the release of a report that will appear, it will be published, that claims that Vince Foster was murdered in an apartment owned by Hillary Clinton, and the body was then taken to Fort Marcy Park.

Jonah Goldberg on Bill Clinton's secret child that he abandoned

My views of him as a man are fairly unremarkable. Few people dispute that the guy is a hormonally challenged selfish jerk. . . .So now we are on the verge of finding out, according to the Drudge Report, whether Bill Clinton is a deadbeat dad. Will it change things? I don't know. But if the last year is any indication, it won't. The president's defenders at this point just don't care . . . I don't know if Clinton fathered that child. But would anyone be surprised?

Jonah Goldberg on the lovelessness and abusive nature of the Clintons' marriage

So I guess what astounds me is that in all three categories she is either a stunning failure (see list in above item) or an even more stunning fraud. Her marriage was supposed to usher in this new paradigm of equal partnership between spouses — two for the price of one. It cannot be under-emphasized the degree to which they claimed theirs was a loving, real marriage. Where? What love? What reality? Who in America wants their marriage to be like the Clintons'? Gail Sheehy writes in the upcoming Vanity Fair that Hillary is an addict. She loves saving her husband when he gets himself into horny-goat trouble. He may not be hitting her but can anybody say "battered-spouse syndrome?" . . . .

Sheehy says friends of the First Lady believe that Hillary is the only person in America who wouldn't get a cigar joke. Um, what? So, she's fully forgiven him and yet she doesn't know the full extent of his piggishness. Talk about transactional immunity. This is not an open, loving marriage. This is the Jerry Springer show with nicer clothes.

Bill Kristol, The Weekly Standard, May 25, 1998

the dominant issue of the 1998 election will be Bill Clinton and Bill Clinton alone; his perjury; his cover-up; his obstruction of justice; and, yes, his sexual misconduct.

The Boston Globe (via Daily Kos), March 21, 2004, on how George Bush beat John McCain in South Carolina:

Bush's campaign strategists, including Karl Rove, devised a push poll against John McCain. South Carolina voters were asked "Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for John McCain for president if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?". They had no interest in the actual percentages in the poll, the goal was to suggest that [McCain had a black child]. This was particularly vicious since McCain was campaining with his adopted [dark skinned] Bangladeshi daughter.

James Moore, writing in Salon (via Digby), on Bush's defeat of John McCain in South Carolina:

Flying down to South Carolina after the upset defeat of Bush in the New Hampshire primary, Rove and Bush were said by a reliable source to have had a frank conversation about what was necessary to defeat Sen. John McCain, who had just defeated Bush in New Hampshire. . . .

Before the votes were cast, McCain was accused by Rove-managed surrogate groups of fathering a mixed-race child out of wedlock, being married to a drug addict, not being an attentive husband, using his wife's family fortune to buy his U.S. Senate seat and, worst of all, turning his back on Vietnam veterans; and all of this happened while George W. Bush was at rallies urging his primary opponent to please engage in a civilized debate on the issues.

James Moore, writing in Salon (via Digby), on Bush's defeat of Ann Richards with the aid of lesbian rumor-mongering:

Ann Richards was a socially progressive and inclusive governor of Texas, appointing a few gays and lesbians to state boards and commissions. In 1994, Rove pinpointed this as an issue certain to help George W. Bush win election in a conservative state. Of course, Rove was not about to let his candidate broach the subject himself. Instead, he worked through Republican operatives in East Texas. Rumors soon began to circulate through coffee shops and agricultural co-ops that implied Gov. Richards, an unmarried woman, might be a lesbian. Without identifying the topic, she acknowledged she was being hurt. "You know what it's about," she told reporters, dismissively, after being asked about the rumors. "And I'm not talking about it."

Tim Dickinson, writing in Rolling Stone, documenting the GOP's absolute refusal to use homosexuality as a political weapon:

When it comes to the politics of distraction, Bush's decision to stoke fears among religious conservatives about gay sex is part of a historical pattern among Republicans. In fact, the last time the party fought a battle over ''traditional'' marriage -- attempting to uphold state bans on interracial marriage during the 1960s -- the political landscape was eerily similar. Sixteen states had laws on the books outlawing marriage between whites and blacks, and seventy percent of Americans opposed interracial marriage. Those are almost precisely the numbers that Bush marshaled to justify his call to ban gay marriage. . . .

The turning point from race-baiting to gay-baiting came in 1984, when Jesse Helms framed his Senate campaign -- then the most expensive in history -- as a struggle between ''the patriotic'' and ''the homosexuals.'' At the time, emotions against integration and busing were on the decline in the South, and Republicans needed a new scare issue to frighten voters. ''One of Helms' political architects told me at the time that it was not about 'values' -- it was about provoking a visceral, gut-level response,'' says Bob Hall, who studied the campaign for the Institute for Southern Studies in Durham, North Carolina. ''It's not rational -- it's Snakes on a Plane.'' Helms, he adds, ''proved the value of gay-baiting in a campaign -- even against a moderate opponent. He helped embed it into the culture of the right-wing political operatives.''

Gay-bashing has been part of the GOP's political bread and butter ever since. ''The gay issue has taken the place of the race issue for the Republican right,'' says Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center. ''This is true not only in the South but nationwide.'' . . .

''Homophobia is replacing the set of flag and race issues of a generation ago,'' says Kevin Phillips, the one-time Nixon strategist who coined the term ''Southern Strategy'' to describe the GOP's leverage of racial prejudice to wrest the South from Democratic control. ''It's the last refuge of the scoundrel.''

That Bush followers are drowning in the most transparent and rancid hypocrisy is hardly news. But what incidents like this demonstrate is just how detached so many of them are from the rational realm and just from basic reality. Listening to Bush followers decry the political use of homosexuality and private sexual behavior would be like listening to a Bush follower say something like this:

Hi, I'm a fervent supporter of George Bush, and I vehemently object to preemptive wars, tax cuts for the wealthy, deficit spending, and the use of terrorism to justify expansive government power. Those things are immoral and reprehensible and the Democrats' use of those things is destroying our country.

If a person said something like that, they would widely be deemed to be crazy, but that sentiment is indistinguishable from the righteous outrage pouring forth over the "left's" exploitation of sexual behavior for political gain and the destructive invasion into the private sexual lives of political figures. How can any adherent to the Bush-led Republican party possibly protest tactics of that sort with a straight face? It is truly inconceivable.

The Limbaugh-led right wing of the Republican Party pioneered the repugnant tactic of winning elections by claiming the virtues of sexual morality and depicting their political opponents as sexually depraved. The GOP depends upon, courts and embraces support from the likes of James Dobson, Gary Bauer, and Cliff Kinkaid who care about little other than private sexual morality and the immorality of the homosexual. Just yesterday, Newt Gingrich argued that "Republicans are right to favor traditional American conservative social values, and the left is completely wrong to put San Francisco left-wing values third in line to be President,"and Tim Graham said in The Corner that Democrats should lose because liberals have a "sexually omnivorous agenda."

As should be painfully obvious, the issue with Larry Craig -- or with pointing out the wildly promiscuous recreational-drug-aided sexual behavior of Rush Limbaugh, or Newt Gingrich's multiple, overlapping broken marriages -- isn't to apply our moral standards to their private lives, but is to apply their own publicly claimed moral standards, as well as the core tactics of the GOP, to document that they live in utter contradiction to the sexual morality they relentlessly embrace for political gain (an exceedingly simple concept which the intellectually honest La Shawn Barber patiently tries to explain to her fellow Bush supporters, as does Pam Spaulding, a little less patiently). Why does it even need to be pointed out that the issue isn't the sexual morality of Larry Craig, Rush Limabugh and Newt Gingrich, but their vile hypocrisy, equally embodied by the anger being expressed by Bush followers over the use of sexual issues for political gain?

While many Bush followers are aware of this fact and cynically pretend not to understand it, others (I think the majority) are genuinely incapable of understanding that point because they block out the reality that the political movement to which they pledge their loyalty has made private sexual morality and exploitation of people's private lives a central political weapon. Just as they spent three years blocking out the extreme violence, chaos and civil war they brought to Iraq (and some still do), they just refuse to recognize facts that undermine their desires.

Watching Bush followers angrily objecting to the use of sexual behavior and homosexuality for political gain -- or listening them oh-so-solemnly lament how the Good People are being driven away from politics because of the personal, invasive treatment to which they are subjected -- is about as jaw-droppingly astonishing as any spectacle one can fathom. This is a political movement built upon claims of moral superiority in the sexual and private realms. It is truly difficult to express the level of contempt and scorn that is merited when the most fervent supporters of that same political movement pretend to be offended and angry when it is revealed that the lives being led by their political leaders are grossly inconsistent with the sexual and moral values they claim to monopolize.

UPDATE: Here is video of Sean Hannity, just two nights ago, defending Melanie Morgan and her co-author's claim in their new book that Cindy Sheehan had an affair with Lew Rockwell and is "addicted to online porn." Let's hear some more from Bush supporters about how terrible it is that the "left" is using private sexual behavior for political gain and exposing people who enter the public arena to such terrible, invasive scrutiny.

And here is what is happening in a North Carolina Congressional race for governor:

[Republican nominee] Vernon Robinson, who has run a series of brash advertisements about the two-term Democratic congressman, charged that Miller wants to import homosexuals to the United States and supported scientific studies that would pay teenage girls to watch pornography.

"Those are San Francisco values, not North Carolina values," said Robinson, repeating a common theme of his campaign.

A bemused Miller countered by blasting Robinson for a campaign mailer that implicitly suggested the congressman was gay and criticized Miller for being "childless." Miller's wife had a hysterectomy more than two decades ago.

Whatever else you might want to say about them, Republicans simply will not use people's private sexual behavior or demonize homosexuals for political gain. They are outraged by such despicable tactics. Absolutely outraged.

UPDATE II: Nick Gillespie documents how Republican Ken Blackwell is trying to win the Ohio Governor's race by having the Ohio State GOP Chairman suggest that Blackwell's opponent, the married Democratic Congressman, Ted Strickland, is a homosexual (via Mona). Isn't it about time to hear some more sermons about how disgusting it is that "the Left" (meaning a single gay activist on the Internet) injects private sexual behavior and homosexuality into politics?

UPDATE III: Jonah Goldberg -- who, along with his mom, played a significant role in dragging the political dialogue in our country down to the lowest and most toxic levels of the sewer (see above for just a couple of samplings) -- expresses his very solemn concern over what the Foley scandal and the Craig outing might portend for our political arena. He calls such tactics "wicked" and compares them to McCarthyism.

Just ponder that for a second -- Jonah Goldberg, spawn of the Clinton sex scandals, who regularly mused in public about the lowest rumors and innuendos about the Clintons' private lives, lecturing everyone on the dangers of exposing and using the private lives of politicians against them. The word "hypocrisy" is nowhere near sufficient to describe their reaction to the Craig outing. It is far beyond that.

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